WiGig Spec Could Change the In-home Networking Game

By Naomi Graychase

May 08, 2009

Industry leaders, including Microsoft, Atheros, Intel, and Dell have formed a new alliance to promote the WiGig specification, a wireless technology capable of transfers up to 6 gigabits per second.

More than 15 technology companies joined together Thursday to announce the formation of a new alliance whose mission is to establish a unified specification for 60 Gigahertz (GHz) wireless technologies. Dubbed the WiGig Alliance (Wireless Gigabit Alliance), the group says there is consumer demand for “a single technology that can support instantaneous file transfers, wireless display and docking, and streaming of high-definition media on a variety of devices.”

Among the companies represented on the board of directors are Atheros, Broadcom, Dell, Intel, LG, Marvell, MediaTek, Microsoft, NEC, Nokia, Panasonic, Samsung, and Wilocity.

In a statement issued Thursday, the group said its vision is “to create a global ecosystem of interoperable products based on [a 60 GHz wireless technology] specification, which will unify the next generation of entertainment, computing, and communications devices at speeds more than ten times faster than today’s wireless LANs.”

While speeds will be faster than Wi-Fi, WiGig’s range will be more limited, making it more well-suited to transferring large files in a small space, such as a room, versus across a campus or large outdoor space.

“Our member companies are leaders in the wireless, CE, PC, and handheld markets. They have the technical acumen and business experience to make the 60 GHz wireless technology a reality for both the home and enterprise,” said Dr. Ali Sadri, President and Chairman of the Wireless Gigabit Alliance in a press release Thursday. “To help bring this technology to market, we welcome new member companies to join our group.”

In addition to the goal of faster wireless transmission of large data files, the WiGig Alliance has also articulated a desire to emphasize low-power wireless products. Ease of use is also a priority, along with interoperability, of course.

The playing field for in-home wireless video transmission technologies is still relatively level. Current players include WirelessHD and WHDI, which focus exclusively on replacing wired TV connections with wireless solutions that link set-top boxes and Blu-ray players to TV sets.

WiGig is expanding its horizons to include not just televisions, but other portable consumer electronics, such as cell phones or laptops.

“60 GHz possesses numerous elements needed for success in real-world indoor wireless applications. Its breadth of unlicensed spectrum, generally harmonized across regulatory regions worldwide, is unmatched by any of the lower frequency bands, and will enable multi-gigabit connectivity,” said Bill McFarland, Atheros chief technology officer.

WiGig technology will be capable of transfers up to 6 gigabits per second, which means a typical DVD could be transferred in about 15 seconds.

“Broadcom serves a diverse set of consumer electronics, home networking, PC, and cellular manufacturers that are looking to support the next wave of entertainment, computing, and communications applications,” said Robert A. Rango, Senior Vice President of Broadcom’s Wireless Connectivity Group. “As a promoting member of the Wireless Gigabit Alliance, we are excited to foster the development of a 60 GHz standard that addresses all of these device segments and paves the way for us to extend our wireless leadership.”

If all goes as planned for the WiGig Alliance, consumers could see products as early as next year. A complete specification is due out by the end of 2009.

Naomi Graychase is Managing Editor at Wi-Fi Planet. She has been covering personal technology for fifteen years. Follow her on Twitter. Join Wi-Fi Planet on Facebook.



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